Updates: October '17

November 30, 2017

DesignHammer's October Flew By!

Wow, another month here and gone. And given how busy it’s been around the office it shouldn’t be a surprise. We wrapped up a few projects and others are about to begin. And with the holidays on the horizon, we’ll need to make time for a little end-of-year partying.

Featured Blog Post | Recent Projects | In Production | Awards and Recognition | Tools and Technology | Conferences | Professional Development | Community Involvement | Featured Client | Around Town | Anything Else

Featured Blog Post

Tips to Solve 9 Common Website Usability Problems

In preparation of World Usability Day, we wanted to be a part of the global effort by putting together a blog post to help our readers make their websites more usable. The post is all about common website usability problems we come across and helpful tips to solve them.

Recent Projects

Dunbar Educational Consultants

Dunbar Educational Consultants works to help students find schools and programs that will help them be comfortable and successful. They work with both US and International students, and assist with secondary through graduate school applications and placement.

We’ve enjoyed a long relationship with the organization. We were excited about the opportunity to work on a full redesign of their website to showcase their recent work.

In Production

RTI-Innovation Advisors

We’ve just finished a planning and design project for RTI Innovation Advisors, a business group of RTI International’s Discovery, Science, and Technology division. We’re starting development on a new site to help promote two way interaction and client acquisition for RTI Innovation Advisors. We’re excited not only for another project to work on with RTI, but also to work with a group who lists NASA among their clients!

Awards and Recognition

DesignHammer wins Two W3 Awards

We are very proud to have been awarded two Silver Awards for our work on The William Blake Archive in the 2017 W3 Awards. The website was recognized in the Art, and Education categories. The website, a collaboration between the editors and the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) and the Carolina Digital Library and Archives (CDLA), is an international public resource dedicated to the prints, paintings, and poems of William Blake (1757–1827). The W3 Awards is sanctioned and judged by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA). In 2017, over 5,000 entries were submitted by agencies around the world.

Tools and Technology


I recently experienced a catastrophic OS X crash predicated by a misbehaving piece of software I was trying to run. Disk Tools via Recovery Mode didn’t solve the problem, and Apple Support, after having me try some additional options, suggested I make an appointment at the local Genius Bar to have my hardware inspected for damaged components. Then I thought of Alsoft’s DiskWarrior, billed as “The world's most advanced repair and data recovery tool.” I recalled it being effective years ago when crashes were more common, and was willing to take a chance to get my computer back up and running. Happily, it didn’t disappoint. In less time than it took Apple’s Disk Utility to give up, maybe five minutes, DiskWarrior had my MacBook Pro running better than before. While not cheap at $120, it was worth every penny to me.


High Five Hype - Coming February 2018

We are looking forward to participating in the 2018 High Five Conference, which will be held in Raleigh, February 26-28, 2018. High Five is a high-energy conference that showcases the marketing talent of the Research Triangle, in the Research Triangle. We were excited to exhibit last year and can’t wait to see what connections, learnings, and other fun are in store for 2018.

Professional Development

AIGA October Community Meeting - Right Brain Meets Left Brain

Walking into the meeting, I felt like a kid in a toy store - literally! There were Legos in bins around the room, and scattered on tables. This event focused on the possibility, and even positives, of bringing together people who think differently. They used the example of coders and creatives.

We were broken up into groups and given time to build something out of Legos. Each person in the group was given an objective, which they were to keep secret. The challenge then was to see how members could communicate and work together to make something together that met everyone's goals. The end results were pretty fantastic! There was everything from a samurai with a movable arm to an island paradise to an abstract typographic topography – check out the pictures!

Community Involvement

Association Executives of North Carolina

One of our goals at DesignHammer is help our clients become more successful by collaborating to create websites that solve business problems. In order to learn and make new connections Stephen Pashby and I spend a lot of time out of the office attending conferences and meetings hosting by a number of organizations. The latest I’ve joined is Association Executives of North Carolina (AENC), a group dedicated to providing professional development opportunities to association leadership and staff, as well as networking with businesses that serve their industry. DesignHammer will be exhibiting at the AENC 2017 Trade Show in Raleigh on December 14th.

Full Frame Film Festival

We were happy to welcome Full Frame as a client early this year. They’ve been showcasing documentary films for over 20 years — and next year is no exception. They just put out a call for entries for the 2018 festival, so if you’re a doc filmmaker don’t forget to submit. And, for everyone else, mark April 5–8 on your calendar so you can see the winners at the 2018 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

Around Town

Halloween in Durham

As a parent of small children, I have been told (by my children) that Halloween is one of the most important and special days of the year. Unfortunately we live in a community with few children, so the trick-or-treating opportunities are pretty limited within walking distance. Fortunately for them, we have been invited by friends to bring our kids, along with seemingly half the kids in Durham, to the Trinity Park neighborhood north of downtown. What we encountered was amazing, with houses with elaborate decorations, and thousands of costumed children of all ages. It was an experience reminiscent of Norman Rockwell (albeit with contemporary costumes) or big-budget Hollywood film. I’d say check it out, but please wait a few years until my kids are too old to trick-or-treat.

Anything Else

3D Printer Obsession

I’ve been interested in 3D printers for a few years now, but the finished product of the home printers, and their expense, has prevented me from picking one up. I’ve recently been doing some research on whether or not it’s time to change that, and I’ve found some exciting new technology for home 3D printers.

3D printers for home use primarily fall into one of two technologies: Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and Stereolithography (SLA). In my earlier research, only FDM had reasonable home desktop models. FDM works by melting a filament (typically a polymer) onto a build plate in the appropriate shape for that layer. The build plate is then moved, and another layer is printed on top of it. This is one the least expensive 3D printer technologies, and is used in a variety of applications.

SLA is more interesting to me, for a variety of reasons. Prints seem to be smoother, it’s a cool technology (after all, you’re printing solids from a liquid resin hardened by UV light… how cool is that?), and a new iteration has been worked on by a chemistry professor at UNC that may greatly increase the speed of prints (some estimates indicate that it could increase the speed of 3D printing by two orders of magnitude!).

I have recently received two test parts from FormLabs for their Form 2 SLA printer, and I was impressed with the finish and resolution of the parts. 3D printing is an exciting change in rapid prototyping, and I’m looking forward to getting a printer for the house, hopefully in 2018!

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